Folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote a song that could be a hymn in all Churches this Sunday: Holy Ground. It was inspired by our first reading (Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15), where Moses encounters the burning-but-not-burned bush sprouting from a sacred desert mountain. He hears God’s voice tell him to remove his sandals because he’s entering holy ground. In that moment Moses becomes a prophet to share the good news of God’s existence with his people. Eventually all lost souls on earth would have the opportunity to be saved by knowing “I AM.”
Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them? God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”
From that point on, every land receiving God’s word would become holy ground. That’s a good message for us to pick up on as we listen to the gospel of God’s Son, who spent 40 days meditating on it in his sacred desert sanctuary. The question we should ask ourselves is, are we nourishing others by living it as we walk the earth or are we just leaving a sterile trail to follow? Paul tells the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12) that such paths are pocked with the same stumbling blocks that felled many of the Israelites who ignored Moses.
Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.
We were meant to get nourishment from the holy grounding given us by the prophets and by God’s own Son. With it we can bear fruit that gives others the strength to get back up when they fall, as Jesus tells us in Sunday’s parable of the fig tree (Lk 13:1-9):
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'”
The fruit that grew from God’s holy desert sanctuaries will continue to nourish new generations as long as humanity sows its seed. The ground that accepts it will also be made holy. Let’s close with that Woody Guthrie tune that celebrates soil made sacred.